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1/9/2013 6:01:00 AM
Gun debate grows: Armed educators, or funding for school police?
Student Resource Officer John Nielson of the Kingman Police Department watches as students walk through the halls of White Cliffs Middle School Tuesday afternoon.
Student Resource Officer John Nielson of the Kingman Police Department watches as students walk through the halls of White Cliffs Middle School Tuesday afternoon.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

A proposal to give schools the right to train and arm one employee in order to reduce the chances of a tragedy similar to the Newtown massacre may raise as many issues as it addresses.

"If we want to do it right, we need to find the funding for fulltime (police) officers at every school," said Kingman Unified School District Superintendent Roger Jacks. "The presence of law enforcement is the best deterrent to crime (at our schools)."

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne recently proposed designating one employee at each school to be trained to use a firearm and handle emergencies similar to what occurred in Newtown. The training would be provided by the Attorney General's Office in conjunction with participating Arizona sheriff's offices, according to information released by Horne's office.

Sheriff Tom Sheahan's name is included in the release as someone who'd be willing to participate in the program should it gain traction throughout the state. But he was not available for comment in time for deadline.

Once trained, the designated employee would be cleared to keep a gun at the school in a secure place and have a line of communication that alerts him or her to an emergency at the school, according to the release.

It is illegal for anyone other than a police officer to have a firearm on Arizona K-12 campuses, so for Horne's proposal to be allowed, legislative changes would need to be made.

Should Horne's proposal gain traction and become an actual program, it would not be mandatory.

For Jacks, the proposal creates more concerns than it alleviates - for instance, who would be trained and where would the gun be kept?

Arming a teacher is basically out of the question, he said.

"We couldn't have a teacher leaving (his or her) students to go get the firearm," Jacks said.

Where the gun would be locked up is equally important. Imagine the person cleared to use the school's firearm not being able to get to the gun because the assailant who entered the school intent on doing harm is blocking access to the weapon, Jacks said.

There are too many variables and too much uncertainty accompanying Horne's proposal, Jacks said.

"There are just so many scenarios," he said.

Horne agrees with Jacks, to an extent.

"The ideal solution would be to have an armed police offer in each school," Horne said in his office's release. "Some of our schools have such officers, referred to as School Resource Officers.

"However, budget considerations have caused the Legislature to cut back on the SRO program. It may not be possible to afford a police officer in every school," Horne said.

Horne calls the proposal to arm and train one employee at each school "the next best solution."

There are currently five SROs at Kingman Unified schools and one SRO for Kingman Academy of Learning schools.

Wanda Hubbard, KUSD's finance director, said a $130,095 state grant, which the district must re-apply for every year, pays 75 percent of the salary and benefits of two MCSO deputies. One is the SRO for Kingman High and the other is the SRO for Black Mountain School in Golden Valley and Cerbat Elementary.

The balance of the two deputies' salaries and benefits is paid for by MCSO, Hubbard explained.

The district also has a formal agreement with the Kingman Police Department and MCSO to split 75 percent of the salary and benefits between the three entities to pay for the KPD officer who works at Kingman Middle School and Manzanita Elementary as an SRO.

The officer's remaining salary and benefits is paid for by KPD, Hubbard said.

There are two more KPD officers who work in the district as SROs. One splits time between Lee Williams High and Palo Christ Elementary and the other works at White Cliffs Middle School and looks in on Desert Willow and Hualapai Elementary.

The Miner could not confirm how the services of these two officers are paid for, but Hubbard believes KPD foots the bill.

The district would need an additional six SROs to put a dedicated one in each school. This tally does not include Mount Tipton School in Dolan Springs because MCSO already has a substation on the school's campus.

Jacks said he spoke to KPD Chief Robert DeVries about the cost associated with putting an officer in every school, and he was told that it would cost between $60,000 and $70,000 per officer. The district would need to pay for a vehicle for each officer as well, Jacks said.

Based on this information, adding six SROs to district schools would cost anywhere from $360,000 to $420,000 a year, and that's without counting the cost of providing vehicles to each officer.

The state grant the district uses to pay for two of its SROs was cut three years ago, Hubbard said. It used to be enough to pay for three officers, she added.

The Arizona Republic reported Monday that Democratic House Minority Leader Chad Campbell is expected to introduce the "Safer Schools, Safer Communities Proposal" today, which among other things would address funding for SROs.

"There's a way to do this," Hubbard said of putting an SRO at every school. "People will have to be willing for their taxes to go up."

ICT - Hummingbead of Kingman
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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: David Gaither

Crime Does Pay wrote:

"To the best of my knowledge every public building already has at least one or more, it's called the "Fire Alarm"!"

Not a good idea. Teachers and students are taught fire evacuation actions. A fire alarm would bring all students and teachers out for the shooter to slaughter!

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Karel Peckar

So here's the scenario: An armed law official with a loaded gun on safety in a snap down holster meets up with a nut with an assault weapon with the safety off and his finger on the trigger. By the time the officer can react he/she is the recipient of ten rounds.

Armed guards aren't the solution. All semi-automatic weapons need to be locked up. Away from kids and nuts. One key for the gun safe with the owner, one with law enforcement. No key replacement! Locking guns up does not infringe on our rights.

An over protective mom was the core problem of the most recent shooting. She pulled her kid out of school and hid him from education and health officials.

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Amber Lee

I don't see any issue with training the teachers. Put them psych evals(which they should be getting anyways!) renew every year. I think it could work. Another possibility couldn't we take some KPD officers off the street and station them at the schools? I mean honestly there is one motorcycle cop that sits at the end of my block EVERY day with a radar gun and just pulls people over all day long, obviously he has the time to spare. Right now my kids are not school age, however by the time they are in the next two years if there is nothing the school is doing to protect them....they will be homeschooled. I believe it can happen here, lots of wacko meth heads with nothing to lose.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Rich Keppner

When I working both as a motor officer for the KPD and a school teacher, I quite often went to teach in uniform (including my sidearm). A parent complained about that. They did not think an armed police officer should be in the classroom teaching.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: no name

Are many of you aware that the school district already employees many retired military within the schools as classified and certified and yet no one even thinks about that?

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Ombudsman the Gun Lover

If every teacher were trained to operate a simple handgun the way they use a cell phone, this gun control fantasy is point mute.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Dan Geruss

Re: Matty Ice, Joe Schmo
First, My parents paid tuition for me to go to public school, they paid for the school sold gym clothes, books and even paid for the rental fee on the locks for my lockers. What do people pay today? I don't have a problem with taxes paying for the school buildings, upkeep and repairs and salaries but a line has to be drawn somewhere. I am tired of the city, county, state, federal government and every group that comes around wanting more money and saying, it's only "pennies on the dollar", after a short while these add up to bucks. You had the kids and you need to be financially responsible for them. As for voting no on more taxes for education, you bet I will, until schools start putting out students with a good education and teachers prove they are doing a good job I won't vote for more money. Kids in my time who's parents had to pay tuition and buy the supplies were more concerned that their kids were learning and attending school because it was an investment in their child's future. Guns have always been around but why isn't anybody asking why these shootings have started in the last 20 - 30 years, don't make me pay because parents are not bringing their kids up properly or not doing something about their child's questionable exhibited behavior. Last, no one must have kids, it's not a law nor is it in the constitution that you must procreate, so if you can't afford the cost of raising a child then don't have them. I had kids and paid for their schooling because I was a responsible parent and wanted them to have a better education and future than their parents, and they do.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Parent Concerned Parent

Single point of entry, closed lobby, camera, bullet-proof glass, metal detector, access only after cleared. Park a Police vehicle near entrance. It is these small deterents that may saves the lives of our children at a minimum cost to the taxpayer.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Crime Does Pay

I saw an article yesterday, may have been MSN or another, but some schools are asking that panic buttons be installed in their schools. To the best of my knowledge every public building already has at least one or more, it's called the "Fire Alarm"!

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Uncommon Sense

First of the cheapest solution...We all know how that turns out. Our kids are worth more than the "cheapest solution." Second, armed guards are absolutely worthless, they CANNOT enforce anything and may not take any action. They by policy are to call the police. Their guns are for show. Third, it amazes me that parents would never let their child step a foot into a mosque or somewhere they deem would harm their morals or beliefs but you would even think of sending your child to be taught by a person with limited training carrying a gun. Do you know how many teachers get arrested? Are on drugs or alcoholics? Cops have hundreds of hours on firearms training.....a teachers...teaches. You start trying to change people's roles and thats when we will have real problems. Last point....retired military?? This somehow is suppose to mean they are qualified? I guess like saying pastors or priests are qualified to be around children unsupervised because they would never hurt children right? Get some sense

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Armed Target

Hire an officer or arm a teacher and you get an armed target, once the armed person is neutralized then anything goes! Guns have no business in any government buildings with the exception of law enforcement buildings. Students and staff have no way to get out of harms way- no bullet proof vests, backpacks, desks or bunkers to shield them from bullets when a fight starts. Should we be thinking of shielding people until qualified support arrives or just hope we can shoot back with limited resources?

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Citizen Me. Me.

Stupid. If you are a parent then just pull your kids out of school now, because if it's not some wacko with a gun it will be some overworked teacher or cop. One guard for hundreds if not thousands of kids. Smart. Real Smart. Might as well just arm the kids and let them protect themselves. Might solve the bully problem too.

Besides, in Connecticut 1 guy took out a classroom with an AR-15. So these super cops are gonna be able to run across a school campus and stop the Bad guy before he can do the same? Get real everybody. I think I'd rather have the kids packing a .45 with their lunch, before they head off to see the School Marm. At least they might learn how to avoid conflict that way. And if one goes crazy there are plenty of people to stop them. sTupid.

-Citizen Me.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: amaryllis smith

Why not create a sally-port with bullet proof glass and counter with it, have anyone entering the school show photo I.D. and check in before being buzzed through the second door that is also bullet proof glass. Have surviellance cameras around the schools with monitors in the office.
I worked in the administrative office of The Glendale Unified School District in personnel and TRUST me NO ONE should want to see teachers armed!!!
Resource officers are a good thing and would not have to be at the same school all the time but they should be one that the students feel comfortable with and trust.
An alarm should be in a position those in the front office can get easily if they feel a threat and it should be set up in a way to alert each classroom.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

#1. Where to put a gun a teacher might possess. Gee, how about in her desk drawer with a special lock on it - key carried on a chain hanging under her blouse so it is not noticeable.

#2. Ex-cops and ex-military that are already asking to volunteer. After testing, updating anything that needed updating, put them to work with our great thanks. Retired people perform all kinds of wonderful community service projects. This would be another one.

Better hurry. Only the criminals will have guns soon. Joe Biden, in his great wisdom (remember, he just said to a new female Senator, spread your legs, we're going to frisk you - NO uproar came from his disgusting remark!) just announced, after his great gun meetings that obama plans to do SOMETHING with our gun problem just by Executive Order. That was today (Wed).

Oh really? What could that possibly be I wonder? I think I can guess but what I'm thinking would violate the Second Amendment. Oh wait, he doesn't CARE about the Second Amendment or the Constitution at all. So that won't be a problem for him. .

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Arizona Moderate

@Dan Geruss

I agree with you that taxes shouldn't be increased, but not for the same reasons you state.

Reference the recent KUSD musical chairs of school principals. There was an odd person out that was shuttled to administration - their diplomatic way of saying "we don't know what to do with you, but we'll keep you on the payroll".

I'd conjecture that there are a number of dead wood administrative salaries that could, and should, be converted to functioning positions as security. Increasing taxes instead of re-designing levels of personnel to meet 21st century school requirements - that's a disconnect.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Schmo

@ Dan Geruss:

"Taxpayers should not be responsible to pay for the raising or schooling of other peoples children."

Does the term "public school" ring a bell? Public schools are, in fact, supported through property taxes by all taxpayers in a school district whether they have children in the schools or not. The United States, and most of the rest of the world, has decided that education is not a privilege reserved for those who have the means to pay but is in fact a right enjoyed by all. Every child is welcomed into our public schools regardless of their parent's ability to pay, just as it should be.

As to the topic at hand, we should not turn our schools into armed camps. Having one or two trained SROs for security purposes is a good idea. Having multiple armed teachers is a very bad one. The more guns we have on campus, the more likely one will fall into the hands of someone who will do harm. Let's leave school security to trained professionals and let our teachers teach and our students learn.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Ann Mom

We need to put our innocent children's safety needs first. Can you imagine all of the COPY CAT criminals waiting for a chance at fame? We should not have to resort to arming our teachers in the public schools they have enough responsibility as it is. Hiring an effective amount of Police officers to patrol the schools, yards,offices and hallways, needs to be put as first priority immediately. Because unfortunately you just never know who is waiting to be a COPYCAT. Please just do something to protect our innocent children.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Warren AO

Guns in schools as a response to gun violence in schools is quite literally the stupidest possible reaction.

And before we talk about how great it is that there are no shootings at schools in Israel ... consider what life is actually like in Israel.

Not in my country.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Combs

Arizona has a resources that it not using , Did any of you know that the Arizona Rangers are in out states statutes as a law enforcement volunteer auxiliary for by law enforcement state wide. they train to AZ Post standards and in many parts of the state have MOU,s with school districts and law enforcement agencies for everything from school safety officers at no charge to the school to patrol and answer calls for different agencies like Serra Vista PD Bisbee PD, Greenlee county Sheriffs office and many more. These men and Women are unpaid for their service, they pay for their own equipment and training and they train to the same standards of our paid officers. Many of them are retired and some active Police officers or military they even have some retired Police chief's and a retired state secretary of State. why we are not using the resources we have instead of spending money to fund new ones I will never understand.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Dennis Ricks

This officer would simply be the initial target of the shooter. In the meantime I would be taxed out of my home to pay his or her salary.
Why do they need to be furnished a car? If you are going to pay some one $50,000 a year for nine months work they can buy and drive there own car to work.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Matty Ice

Well Dan... at some point you or someone in your family, your neighbor, restaurant cashier, police officer, etc. did benefit from public education, which is funded by taxes. The children in our schools and community are our responsibility, regardless of school choice. These kids, for example are going to trick-or-treat in your neighborhood, play in the park, and volunteer to help at your church. So, the question on the table Dan is, "What type of students/ citizens do you want those to be?" When and if increasing taxes for education comes up on a ballot, go ahead vote no, and feel good about exercising that right. But, if you understand education is a team effort to create productive citizens, then give up pennies on the dollar to help Kingman become a better place.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: just me

Article comment by: Armed guard ... i have met a few NO!!!

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: G Ma

I don't want the teachers armed with guns . I want them armed with knowledge to teach the kids .

Hire some Veterans to protect the Schools

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

Congress can come up with all kinds of money for their constituencies, they surely can come up with money for officers at every school.
I know the president would be interested if the armed guards would form a union, as he loves unions even tho they are destroying our economy.
I would even go for raising taxes, but know darn good and well it would just open a Pandora box and they would rob it and raise it every time they got the notion...I trust government about as much as I would a used car salesman.
I know there is a way and it won't make everyone happy, but it has to be done right away for our kids safety.....forget the gun control crap as that is just a left wing pacifier.
Why not some type of volunteer agency with well trained volunteers....I think that would work!

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Recruit Retired or ex-military

Why can't the Kingman Police Department ask for retired military to train and put in the schools. This sounds like a good program for the City to start. They could be another group of volunteers sponsored by KPD. I think you would get more than enough to protect the schools

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